AMTA-MA Defeats Amendment to Take Workplace Protections Away from Massage Therapists

Published: July 17, 2015

If what you're about to read just doesn't make you want to shout out a big "Yahoo!" about what your AMTA-MA Chapter is doing FOR YOU, then you'd better check your pulse! This is a perfect example of your Chapter doing what it does best to protect you, our member. There was an amendment filed not too long ago that would have threatened the ability for massage therapists who work on Sundays and holidays to receive time and a half pay. With our lobbyists in place, they were able to inform the AMTA-MA Chapter so that we can influence potential changes on your behalf. This is what you are paying for when you give back to the MA Chapter through voluntary chapter fees.

Our Lobbyist, Mark Molloy, breaks this down for all of us. We will continue to update you with law and legislation changes as our Government and External Affairs program is hard at work to make sure your voice and rights are protected. Make sure you continue to see this type of information that directly impacts your livelihood by signing up for our AMTA-MA Chapter emails. Sign up here today.

What is the current law?

Massage therapists are protected under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 136, §6. Under this law, any retail establishment which operates on Sundays and holidays must provide: (1) payment, for businesses with more than seven employees, at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate, and (2) regardless of the number of employees, businesses cannot require employees to work on Sunday. An employee's refusal to work may not be grounds for discrimination, dismissal, discharge, reduction in hours, or any other penalty. If a business falls within one of the 55 enumerated exemptions, these employment protections are lost.

What will change?

An amendment was filed to the Senate budget at the request of owners of certain Elements Massage facilities to exclude massage therapists from the above mentioned workplace protections. The AMTA-MA became aware of this amendment through our lobbyists and actively opposed the measure. As a result, the Massachusetts Senate did not adopt this amendment to the law.

How does this potentially impact your practice?

As drafted, this amendment would have harmed licensed massage therapists by denying them the ability to receive the proper payment and workplace protections if working on Sundays. The proposed amendment would have prevented massage therapists working in massage establishments, spas or other businesses from receiving appropriate pay and workplace protections in electing not to work on certain days. At a time when the Commonwealth appears to be recognizing workers’ rights over that of corporations, it is not prudent to essentially reduce compensation for a growing profession.

Please note that there is also a filed bill, House Bill 169, An Act Relative to the Blue Laws, on this matter that is currently being considered by the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure. The legislation attempts to do the same thing that the budget amendment proposed to do. Accordingly, the AMTA-MA will be working with its lobbyists to monitor and oppose legislation, such as this, which could harm massage therapists during the 2015-2016 legislative session.

What you need to do if this applies to you?

Be prepared. The AMTA-MA is only as strong as its membership. To that end, you may be asked to contact your local legislators if this legislation starts to gain steam. In the meantime, the AMTA-MA leadership and our lobbyists will continue to monitor and advocate against any legislation that would harm massage therapists within the Commonwealth.